Points of Controversy

3.4. Of Emancipation as a Process

Controverted Point: That spiritual emancipation is a gradual process of becoming free.

Theravādin: If your proposition is to stand, you must affirm also that such a mind is then in part freed, in part not. And if you assent to the second proposition, you must admit that your subject is part Stream-Winner, part not—in other words, that he has all the attributes of the Stream-Winner in part only.

The same argument holds for the other three Paths.

You must also affirm as to whether each conscious unit is emancipated at the moment of its genesis, and in process of being emancipated as it ceases… .

Opponent: You do not assent to my proposition; but was it not said by the Exalted One:

“For him who thus knows thus sees, the heart is set free from the defilements of sense-desires, of becoming, and of ignorance.”

Is there no “being emancipated” here of the emancipated mind?

Theravādin: But is there not also a Suttanta in which the Exalted One said:

“With heart thus made serene, made wholly pure, and very clean, freed from lust and from defilement, become pliant, ready to work and imperturbable, he bends over the mind to insight in the destruction of defilements.”

There is no process here of being set free.

You would not speak of a mind partially lusting, hating, being bewildered, being corrupted. How can you then maintain your proposition? Would you not say straight away that the mind is lustful or not, malevolent or not, confused or not, suspended or not, destroyed or not, finished or not?